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Learner Drivers in the UK

Driving is a vital part of many people’s everyday lives and one that we’re willing to fork out for. It’s difficult to put a price on the convenience and the freedom that a car brings us but here at Dayinsure, we thought we’d give it a try.

Buying a vehicle, purchasing car insurance and maintaining your car – it all adds up when you’re a car owner. But how much money is spent even before you receive your pink license in the post? On average, how much is a learner driver likely to spend on their driving lessons, practical tests and insurance?

We conducted some research and this is what we found…

Learner Driver Insurance Data

First of all, we decided to pull together some data from our short-term insurance policies for learner drivers in 2016. This included policies taken out for learners practicing in borrowed cars, such as their parents or other family member’s cars, rather than using a professional driving instructor option.

Here’s the data that we found interesting:

Age

  • The majority (52%) of customers were ages 17 or 18 at the time of booking (24% of customers were aged 17 and 28% were 18)
  • The oldest customer was aged 67

Vehicle

  • The top five manufacturers were Ford, Vauxhall, VW, Peugeot and Renault
  • The top five cars for borrowed learner driver cars were Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Polo and Volkswagen Golf

Location

  • The top postcode areas who took out a learner driver policy with Dayinsure included Birmingham, Reading, Guilford, Oxford and Nottingham

Time of year

  • The busiest month for policies was in December, followed by August and then July

Policy Length

  • The temporary insurance policy length varied, with the most popular duration being 28 days, followed by one day and then just two hours

Number of Lessons

The bulk of the cost associated with being a learner driver is from the driving lessons themselves. In the UK, learner drivers take an average of 23 lessons before taking their test, which (using an estimated cost of £20 per hour) comes to a total of £460 (or £522 including the cost of the test itself) per learner driver.

The average number of lessons and pass rate also varied according to gender, and our research found that women need 50% more lessons than men before taking their driving tests. On average, males took 18 lessons before taking their test, compared to 27 for females, meaning they are £180 worse off than their male counterparts before they’ve even reached the practical exam.

Number of Lessons by Location

According to our research, location plays a big factor in how many lessons you’ll need, and how much you’ll end up spending on driving lessons as a learner. We looked at the average number of lessons taken in each of the UK regions and the average cost of these (including the driving test) to find out which areas needed the fewest lessons to be confident enough to take their practical test.

The regions that needed the greatest number of lessons were:

  • Yorkshire and the Humber – 24 lessons – £542 (including test)
  • West Midlands – 24 lessons – £542 (including test)
  • North East – 24 lessons – £542 (including test)

In contrast, those in Northern Ireland needed the fewest lessons before their test, with an average of 18 lessons, costing the learner just £422 including the test. Looking at England alone, the South East needed the fewest lessons, with an average of 21 lessons, costing the learner just £482 including the test.

We then broke down the data further into major UK cities, looking at the average number of driving lessons needed, and the cost of these lessons including the practical test.

The cities that needed the fewest number of lessons were:

  • Gloucester – 12 lessons – £302
  • Edinburgh – 17 lessons – £402
  • Belfast – 18 lessons – £422
  • Portsmouth – 19 lessons – £442
  • Chelmsford – 19 lessons – £442

The cities that needed the greatest number of lessons were:

  • Sheffield – 27 lessons – £602
  • Aberystwyth – 26 lessons – £582
  • Worcester – 25 lessons – £562
  • Birmingham – 25 lessons – £562
  • Southampton – 25 lessons – £562

UK Driving Test Pass Rates

Of course, this data is largely dependent on pass rates, which happens to be under half in the UK. Of the 1,252,871 tests that were taken in the UK between April 2016 and March 2017, 47.2% of the learner drivers passed. That was 591,397 passes and 661,474 fails. To put this in terms of the monetary value, almost £41,000,000 was spent on failed practical tests alone!

A greater number of females conducted a practical driving test than males in this April-March time-frame (665,494 compared to 596,370), but they had less success. In terms of the male/female divide, a higher percentage of males passed first time, with a pass rate of 50.6% compared to 44.1% for females. So again, females are more likely to be left out of pocket as a higher percentage of women fail their first practical test and must pay for another.

UK Driving Test Pass Rates by Location

Looking major UK cities, we analysed the average number of driving lessons needed versus actual pass rate, and the findings were interesting.

The cities that had the highest pass rate were:

  • Norwich – pass rate 52.99% – 24 lessons
  • York – pass rate 52.53% – 20 lessons
  • Swansea – pass rate 52.20% – 20 lessons
  • Cambridge – pass rate 50.84% – 23 lessons
  • Gloucester – pass rate 50.61% – 12 lessons

The cities that had the lowest pass rate were:

  • Leeds – pass rate 34.90% – 24 lesson
  • Coventry – pass rate 37.06% – 23 lessons
  • Birmingham – pass rate 38.31% – 25 lessons
  • Wolverhampton – pass rate 42.05% – 19 lessons
  • London – pass rate 42.15% – 23 lessons

As you can see, there wasn’t any direct correlation between number of lessons and pass rate, which is especially prevalent in the examples of Gloucester and Birmingham. This made us wonder – what were the costly mistakes that learner drivers typically made on their driving tests?

Driving Test Fails

The top ten reasons for failed tests were:

  • Junctions (observation)
  • Mirrors (change direction)
  • Control (steering)
  • Junctions (turning right)
  • Positioning (normal driving)
  • Move off (safely)
  • Move off (control)
  • Response to signals (traffic lights)
  • Reverse park (control)
  • Response to signals (road markings)

These mistakes meant that 52.8% of tests were failed in 2016/17, and learners had to pay again for another attempt at their practical test.

However, in some cases, at least they got a funny story from it! Here at Dayinsure, we asked friends and colleagues for some of their best driving test anecdotes.

Here’s some of the funniest stories:

“I was caught speeding on a driving test. Got caught by a camera after having been told I’d failed due to being over the speed limit. No pass and 3 points already on my licence.”

“My friend drove straight over the first roundabout out of the test centre. Not a small roundabout but a big one with grass and council topiary trees and everything.”

“My friend got stuck behind a horse for 3 miles and was too frightened to pass it.”

The Cost of Learning to Drive

So, what did we find out? Well, mainly that becoming a driver isn’t cheap, especially when you add on the cost of your driving lessons and test(s) too! Costing an average of £522 to just pass your test, learning to drive can be expensive, regardless of your age, gender or where you live.

Of course, these outgoings can’t be helped and it’s a small price to pay for the freedom you’ll have to travel to work, visit friends or take a road trip. However, one thing you can do is make sure your car insurance is low by using our special learner driver cover here at Dayinsure – it’s suitable for everyone, whether you’re 17, 75, or anywhere in between.